Democrats and Republicans beware: A President for the People

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., February 7, 2012 – Today, more than ever, America needs independent leadership.  The “hope” of bipartisan accord we were promised in 2008 has disintegrated into a politically accusatory environment that has earned Congress the lowest “favorability” rating of all time, and the President isn’t far behind.  The only thing upon which the Democrats and Republicans seem to agree is that our Nation’s current challenges are the fault of the other Party.

It is time to fix the problems rather than the blame.  That is why I am running as an independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States.

Will it be easy?  No.  Have the Parties spent the past 200+ years trying to build barriers designed to preclude anyone from challenging their power base?  Yes.  Should you accept that constraint?  I am presenting you with the opportunity to decide.

The Constitution empowers you to participate in the determination of who serves in our representative form of Government.   You are not restricted to the candidates that the Parties proffer.

There is a place for partisan argument.  It resides within the Legislative Branch of our Government under Article I.  The bicameral chambers are structured to elicit differing opinions that can be debated civilly (although the latter concept appears to be a lost art).

The idea is that a presentation and discussion of the facts within the House and the Senate will lead to a rational assessment of the alternatives. Unfortunately, the Parties have become so profoundly focused on maintaining and expanding their political power that they have become blind to their responsibility to protect the best interests of the People.

Our Founding Fathers tried to protect against that inevitability by crafting a more autonomous branch of Government under Article II:  the Executive Branch.  The expectation was that the President would exercise the power of veto to temper any undue partisanship in the event that Party politics began to inappropriately influence the direction of legislation.  In turn, the power of veto was designed to be overridden by Congress in the event that it was abused, but to do so would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate (a hurdle of appropriately significant magnitude).

Regrettably, the Presidency has evolved into more of a champion for a particular Party than a check-and-balance against legislative fiat.  It has transformed into a position that serves more to secure the power of the Parties than the “blessings of Liberty” for the People.

After serving over 25 years as a senior executive and consultant in the private sector (predominantly directing turnarounds), I dedicated the past three years to the study of our Nation’s political system.  In that time, I wrote and spoke extensively on the subject and authored three books.

Ultimately, I focused on the Party paradigm that has been strangling our country.  It became apparent that the solution had to reside outside of the Parties.  We needed a leader who would retain the ability to exercise independent judgment.

Think about that.  In our current political environment, potential candidates have accepted the belief that they have to represent a Party to wage a successful campaign.  The cash and infrastructure requirements are otherwise prohibitive.  Then, ask yourself two questions:  Who created that paradigm and why?

The answer is obvious.  The Parties are the only entities that benefit from constraining choice.  They work to “preserve, protect and defend” their base of power rather than the Constitution.  The fact that they have to sell “influence” in order to maintain the system they have created is irrelevant.  It’s a Machiavellian model at its finest.

The result is devastating.

Since Presidential campaigns are at the extreme end of the cost curve, Party candidates essentially are owned by their Parties.  If they are elected, their decisions are significantly prejudiced by their Party’s leadership and platform.  As a result, we see over 80 percent of the senior White House appointments and nearly 50 percent of the Ambassadorships going to individuals who bundled $500,000 or more for the President; and we are asked to believe that it’s just a coincidence.

Ultimately, the President is expected to pay what the Party owes.  Effectively, the “Leader of the Free World” forfeits his or her Liberty to Lead, and that is untenable.

Presidents too often have become the political marionettes of their Party.  For example:  they are traditionally used to attract money and attention to feed their Party’s insatiable appetite for power.  Presidents draw crowds; crowds translate into donations; donations are used to create marketing campaigns that are designed to shape political beliefs; and political beliefs drive voter behavior.  You just have to connect the dots.

Think about a modern-day President’s schedule.  He or she is obligated to fly around the country, at taxpayer expense, to fund-raise on behalf of the Party; to campaign on behalf of other Party candidates (whom the President often doesn’t know); and to campaign for his or her own re-election.  This is done at a cost of over $181,000 an hour to operate Air Force One; not to mention the cost of Secret Service protection and the multiple floors of Five-Star hotels that have to be closed to accommodate most of our recent Presidents’ lodging preferences.

It is important to note that none of these activities has anything to do with the business of the People.  The question becomes:  What would happen if we had a full-time President?

You now have the opportunity to discover the answer.

As an independent candidate, I am not indebted to a Party.  That means I can actually focus on serving our Nation rather than a political Party.

I am insulated from having to fund-raise for anyone.  I am not required to champion the candidacies of others and, quite frankly, if they can’t stand on their own accord, they do not warrant my support.

Additionally, I will commit not to run for re-election.  That does not mean that I would not serve a second term if it was the will of the People.  It simply means that I will not waste time raising money and campaigning for a second term.

The reality is that I will be the only candidate, at that moment in time, who has a record upon which to be judged.  If my performance merits a second term, I would be honored to serve.

I think that it’s absurd for an incumbent to raise and spend nearly $1 billion to get re-elected.  That amount of money would support 22,000 median-income households, 65,000 individuals receiving unemployment, or 87,000 people at the poverty level for an entire year.  If that perspective costs me a second term, so be it.

I also have the ability to exercise independent judgment. Compare that to the position of a Party President.

A Party President is under enormous pressure to comply with the Party’s platform (again, to protect the Party’s base).  That means that he or she is inclined to define problems, identify root causes, and evaluate alternatives that are in alignment with the Party’s position.  It also means that the President effectively only considers half of the solutions.  In my opinion, this is tantamount to a breach of fiduciary duty.

The telltale sign of this violation of public trust is when a President begins to blame the opposing Party for virtually everything.  Rhetoric that decries a Republican (or Democrat) House or Senate, and ignores the reality that both Parties are represented and charged with the responsibility to reach a consensus.

This tactic is also used to distract attention from the fact that there is culpability on both sides.  To reiterate my earlier statement:  It’s time to fix the problem rather than the blame.

In my turnaround experience in the private sector, there wasn’t any value in assessing blame.  We needed to solve the problem, and that’s where we concentrated our time and energy.  Additionally, no one really cared who offered the best solutions.  We only cared that we identified them and executed them as effectively as possible.

You might have noticed that I used the pronoun “we.”  It is a particularly important pronoun with respect to leadership.  It is also a particularly important pronoun with respect to our country.

The Constitution begins with the words “We the People.”  It doesn’t begin with the words “We the Democrats”… or “We the Republicans”… or “We the Liberals”… or “We the Conservatives.”  It doesn’t distinguish between sexes, races, religions, sexual orientations, or any other categories the Parties use to divide rather than unite our country.  It begins, “We the People,” and it’s time we elected someone who recognizes that distinction.

We live in a world in which the Presidency is for sale, and in our society, it usually goes to the highest bidder.  Our Founding Fathers would be ashamed.

When the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were concluded, an entry in Benjamin Franklin’s diary states that a certain Mrs. Powel asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a Republic or a Monarchy?”  Without hesitation, he answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  How prophetic was his answer?

We were given a Republic.  Only you can decide if we can keep it.

Let’s work together.  It’s time to return America to the People.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A President for the People, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.